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Veliz Impresses as Canes Defeat FAU 7-5

HurricaneSports.com
By Camron Ghorbi

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Freshman Greg Veliz delivered another strong start, Miami’s offense scored six runs early, and the Hurricanes cruised to a 7-5 win over FAU Wednesday night at Mark Light Field.

Veliz (2-1) allowed just three hits in 5.2 innings on the hill. The Key West, Fla., native tied a career mark with seven strikeouts and walked two batters across 91 pitches.

Over his last two starts, Veliz is 2-0 with 13 strikeouts and just four hits allowed in 10.2 innings.

The win clinched the season series for the Hurricanes, who are scheduled to play FAU one more time this season, on Wed., April 19.

Host Miami (10-11) plated three runs in the first inning and three more in the second to jump out to an early advantage. Senior Joe Gomez and junior Carl Chester both connected on second-inning homers for the Hurricanes, who picked up their fifth win in the last seven games.

“I think we’re much, much better offensively than we’ve shown in the first how many ever games,” head coach Jim Morris said. “It’s nice to get a lead there, six runs…a lot of guys swinging the bats. It takes a little bit of the pressure off our pitching.”

FAU’s first hit off Veliz didn’t come until an infield single with two outs in the fifth. Miami out-hit the visitors 9-6, with redshirt sophomore Keven Pimentel allowing just one hit in 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.

“It’s great, especially to jump out on a good team like FAU. You can’t take them lightly,” Chester said. “Hitting was contagious tonight, and in a couple of games recently. It’s been good swinging it again.”

The Owls closed the deficit with a four-run ninth inning, but sophomore Frankie Bartow retired Stephen Kerr on a groundout to seal the victory.

Miami chased FAU starter Sean Labsan after just one inning with a big two-out rally.

Labsan was tagged for four hits and three runs across 27 pitches, as the Owls (14-6-1) used five pitchers on the night.

A single from junior Carl Chester and a walk drawn by sophomore Romy Gonzalez put two runners on for Michael Burns, who dropped an RBI single into right for the opening run. Two pitches later, junior Brandon Gali maintained his hot streak at the plate with an RBI single through the right side.

Redshirt senior Edgar Michelangeli cranked the next pitch from Labsan to right for another RBI single, pushing Miami’s lead to 3-0.

Gomez connected on the second home run of his career on a deep solo shot off reliever Nick Swan in the second. After a two-out triple from senior Johnny Ruiz, Chester lifted a 1-0 pitch from Swan over the fence in left to bump Miami’s lead to 6-0.

Miami added a run in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Gonzalez.

That was more than enough for Veliz, who was overpowering at times Wednesday. Facing a talented Owls offense, Veliz struck out seven batters for the second time in his career.

“Our staff is going to keep doing what it’s doing,” Veliz said. “We’ll be fine. I’m feeling comfortable and we’re looking good as a staff.”

On his 91st and final pitch, Veliz struck out FAU catcher Kevin Abraham and departed to a standing round of applause from 2,375 fans.

Pimentel allowed a single to the first batter he faced, but did not allow another runner to reach base across 23 pitches.

FAU tagged Miami freshman reliever Daniel Rivero for a two-run home run in the ninth.  Bartow came in with a man on base and also allowed a two-run home run, but the Owls would pull no closer.

“It was a big win,” Morris said. “Florida Atlantic is playing very well. They were 14-5 before [tonight] and won nine out of 10, so it was a big win for us.”

Miami next travels to Chapel Hill, N.C., for an ACC series with host North Carolina. First pitch for the series opener Friday, slated for broadcast on ACC Network Extra and WVUM 90.5 FM, is set for 4 p.m.

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